Sunday, 17 October 2010

Yarm Fair

 In the early 1300s Yarm was said to be the largest seaport in the North of England It was also the site for the bridge over the river Tees nearest the sea. Today’s bridge includes two arches which date from 1400 - when rebuilt by Bishop Skirlaw of Durham. However the story of the bridge is for another time.

The 2010 Yarm fair has just finished. The charter for the fair was granted by King John in the early 13th century. Originally the fair saw the sale of cattle, horses, sheep and cheese and at one time the fair was the biggest fair for cheese in North East England. In the early 1900s over 500 tons of cheese would be traded from unprotected stacks on the pavement. There would be no chance of that happening these days.

Fair in c.1949

Modern ride

In 1901 the High Street was packed with shows, roundabouts, cattle and sightseers The modern fair consists of white knuckle rides, fortune tellers, lots of bright lights and loud music. Many businesses now close down while the fair is in town and the horse trading has been moved away from the main street.

Yarm High Street
(Photo by Ian Britton - - Creative Commons licence)

Yarm Town Hall
(Photo by Ian Britton - - Creative Commons licence)

At one time hundreds of horses would be bought and sold after being put through their paces. In his book, The Yarm of Yesterday, Malcolm Race tells the story of a young boy left in charge of a horse while his grandfather was in one of Yarm’s many pubs.  The boy was only too pleased the lead the animal up and down the High Street for a prospective buyer. The man had handed over £50 and was leading the horse away when he discovered that the horse was blind. The boy had long since disappeared!

Fair rides
(Photo by thornej - - Creative Commons Licence)


Mattias Kroon said...

Very interesting historical perspective around those pictures Bob! It gives a good insight of those areas.

jakill said...

Fascinating piece, Bob. I must get up to Yorks and look around some more.

Paul S said...

Great pictures Bob.Yarm Town Hall is certainly a very quaint building !

Bob Scotney said...

Paul - Yarm Town Hall was built in 1710. I'll put up a post about it later.